Farm Families:

Because I Was Raised By A Farmer…

Blog post written by Kaitlin Donovan.

Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world. Give a young girl corn and a cow to feed it to and you’ve created a love she will hold on to forever.

For those that don’t know me, I am Kaitlin Donovan, Western Kansas Corn Crew Representative and Communications Coordinator for Kansas Corn. I now live in Holcomb, Kansas with my husband and two dogs and work from an office in Garden City. Southwest Kansas is home to me. I grew up on a family farm in Deerfield, Kansas where my family grows wheat, corn, sorghum and alfalfa and raises a commercial cow-calf herd. And anyone who knows me will tell you there’s two things I love in this world it’s my family and cows.

Kaitlin riding her favorite cow as a kid, 93. On the left is her grandpa, Mick Morgan, and on the right is her father, Monte Morgan.

When we started working on our social media posts for Father’s Day it got me thinking about my childhood and the farmers in my life that molded me into the person I am today. At the time, driving to check sprinklers, riding along to check the cows, or sitting shotgun in an old John Deere tractor where the seat was a lowered arm rest seemed like just any old regular day. And even though I need reminding, looking back now on the memories, I realize the importance of the life lessons I gained because I was raised by a farmer.

Don’t let the tank flow over.

All those times I let the water tank run over to create the great, “Lake Morgan,” because I got distracted, started doing something else and then forgot about the tank. I used to question why it always followed with a scolding from my father. But now I know. He was teaching me responsibility. There are times in life when the word, “yes” can get us into trouble. You can volunteer and take on a lengthy to-do list, but don’t get so distracted that you can’t focus and finish the tasks you started first. And always remember that the people giving you those tasks are counting on you to complete them–if you let your tank spill over you might be letting someone down.

Don’t half-ass it. You waste time doing it twice when you could have spent a little longer the first time to do it right.

We’ve all gotten into a hurry and done something quickly just to get it done only to find ourselves having to do it again. When you’re a farmer, your to-do list is long and your time to get it done can be pretty short. So this life lesson was one very near and dear my father’s heart and his patience. Nothing would make him angrier than asking us to do something and then having to do it again for us, or waiting on us to fix it because we didn’t take the time to do it right. Your time is no more important than anyone else’s. When you “half-ass” something, there’s almost always someone who will have to spend more of their time fixing it. Think about others and be considerate of their time as well as yours. If you didn’t really have time to do something the first time, do you really have time to do it again?

Don’t trust the weatherman.

Growing up, when the weather report started on the TV you had better be quiet because dad wanted to listen. The weather plays a huge role in agriculture, and farmers want to know exactly what is going to happen and when it’s going to happen. However, meteorologists are human too, and sometimes they get the forecast wrong. My father used to tell us all to go to school for meteorology because you get paid and you don’t ever have to be right. But my sister and I didn’t go into meteorology and it doesn’t look like my brother will either so what’s the point to this lesson? When you speak there’s someone listening and what you say could make an impact on that person’s life. To the best of your ability, always speak the good, honest truth. And know that your predictions can be ruined by ever-changing conditions.

Open your eyes and ears, not your mouth.

To this day, this lesson is still one of the hardest for me because I love to talk. My dad always encouraged us to be smart, educated and have our own opinions. But he also taught us to know when to speak that opinion and when to shut up and listen. I’m only 25 years-old, and even though I want to, I don’t know everything. My dad always taught us to listen and learn from the world around us. You’re a lot less likely to put your foot in your mouth if you don’t open it to begin with.

People might not always remember all the good things you’ve done, but they will always remember the bad ones.

I spent many hours throughout my childhood helping dad around the farm. And I swear there are days he could forget his own name, but when it comes to telling the story of how I got mad and tired and decided to quit him while picking up flood irrigation pipe, he can recall every detail. Dad would always remind us that this rule applies to everything we do in life,whether you’re an adult working at a job trying to impress your boss or a high school kid trying to show your basketball coach your skills. When it comes to getting more playing time or a big promotion, make sure the person in charge remembers all the good things and not the bad.

Nothing comes easy in this life, you’re going to have to work hard.

Some people might think my dad has it easy because he works for our family business. He doesn’t have to answer to “the man” and worry about job security if he’s his own boss. That’s not quite the case in farming or any other successful small business. You only get out what you put in, so if you don’t want to put in the effort don’t expect the reward. He taught me that if you want something in life, you’re going to have to work for it. And trust me, my dad is one of the hardest working people I know. He taught my siblings and I to have a strong work ethic and to do all we can with the talents we’ve been given. But more importantly, he was a role-model and not just told us but showed us how to work hard.

Looking back on my dad’s wisdom I can’t help but feel grateful for the life lessons he passed on to me. And at the same time, I can’t help but laugh and what went through my mind as I learned them. When he wouldn’t let me or my siblings do something we would say, “but so-and-so got to do it why can’t I?” And his response every time was, “well I’m not so-and-so’s father am I?” Back then, this was the most annoying phrase he could utter. But now, I happily say, no, he’s my dad, and I’m thankful to have been raised by this farmer.

The Morgan family left to right; Matt, Molly, Monte, Leslie Logan Donovan and Kaitlin (Morgan) Donovan. Photo taken by Ray Martinez Photography.